Last week, Pennsylvania Game Commission released its second wildlife survey report gathered from 30 wind energy companies working in the commonwealth.
"Through the Wind Energy Voluntary Cooperative Agreement, we are learning more about the impacts to wild birds and mammals," says Carl Roe, Game Commission executive director. "The major question has been where best to site turbines relative to migration routes of birds and bats, and critical habitats used by birds and mammals."
In 2007, wind energy companies building in the Keystone State agreed to one-year pre-construction studies of wild birds and mammals and two-year post-construction monitoring of related mortalities. The information from now 30 participating wind energy companies is pooled.
The report reveals what species are most susceptible to wind turbine impact and how much mortality is occurring. It's also helping energy companies make more informed decisions on siting wind projects, and on developing mortality mitigation methods.
What they learned
More than 150 wildlife surveys were conducted since 2007. Key findings include:
• Telemetry surveys eastern small-footed bats and the Indiana bats yielded new capture locations, roost locations and foraging areas for both.
• A new Indiana bat hibernation area was discovered in 2009.
• The average estimated bat deaths per turbine was 24.6 per year. About 30% were Hoary bats. No threatened or endangered bat mortalities have been documented.
• The average estimated bird deaths per turbine was 3.9 per year. Most were Passerines.
• Three endangered bird fatalities – two blackpoll warblers and one yellow-bellied flycatcher – were documented in September 2009, one each at three different sites. All three were determined to be migrants and not from local breeding populations.
• Cooperators did not document any large single-day mortality events.
• Turbine site research on bat deterrents has shown promise for reducing bat mortality.
"These are real-world examples of how this voluntary agreement has helped protect wildlife and their habitats," says William Capouillez, PGC's wildlife habitat management director. "They also reinforce the conservation goal of wind energy companies."
For a copy of the report, go to www.pgc.state.pa.us. Put your cursor over "Wildlife" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage. Then put your cursor over "Habitat Management" in the drop-down menu listing. Select "Wind Energy" in the next drop-down menu listing, and click on "PGC 2nd Wind Energy Summary Report."
The 30 companies voluntarily participating are: AES; E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, Inc. (formerly Airtricity, Inc.); Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. (Iberdrola); Energy Unlimited, Inc.; Freedom Wind Energy, LLC; Gamesa Energy USA; Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA; PPM Atlantic Renewable (Iberdrola); ReEnergy, LLC; First Wind (formerly UPC Wind Management, LLC); US Wind Force, LLC; Acconia Wind Energy USA, LLC; Global Winds Harvest, Inc.; Penn Wind; Laurel Hill Wind Energy, LLC; Everpower Renewables; AMP-Ohio/MESA; Lookout Windpower, LLC; Forward Windpower, LLC; BP Alternative Energy; Wind Park Bear Creek, LLC;; Invenergy Wind Development, LLC; Tuthill Corporation Dba Blue Mountain Ski Area; PPL Renewable Energy, LLC; New Tech Wind, Inc.; Duke Energy; Apex Wind Energy Holdings, LLC; Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, LLC; Volkswind USA; and enXco.